Hey everyone! How is everyone enjoying quarantine? Truth be told, I don't hate it but I've always been pretty introverted. Don't go anywhere? Can do! I thought it might be fun to write a post about some of the stuff I've been into this year so far - albums, books, games, etc. I have even been able to play guitar a lot more. Learned several Tom Petty and Choir songs. Anyway... here we go...
Soccer Mommy, Color Theory - I loved Clean and made it one of my picks for 2018. Color Theory is equally as great. The lyrics are a bit darker here. A lot less "this boy doesn't like me" and more "wow... life sure does suck."
Paramaecium, Exhumed of the Earth and Within the Ancient Forest - I remembered buying Exhumed when it first came out in '93. I did not like it at all because it was way too slow. I guess my old age has allowed me to enjoy doom/death metal because I love it now. Along with the second album Paramaecium has been a fixture of the year. Forest is the more "progressive" of the two with more clean vocals, female vocals, violins, etc. Love them both equally.
Crimson Thorn, Anthology of Brutality - So... yeah... big death metal fan now. I snagged this because I loved Unearthed so much. This collection has all three of their albums including Dissection and Purification. Something about the downtuned guitars, blast beats, and brutal vocals just amps me up. Usually people get mellower in their old age and here I am grooving on death metal. Dissection has the worst production out of the three but given their style it doesn't hurt that much.
Saint, Time's End and Too Late For Living - Missed these guys when I was young. They were kind of billed as the "Christian Judas Priest." Well if that's the case I'm going to friggin' love Judas Priest because these two albums are awesome. Prefer Too Late over Time's End a bit but enjoy both.
Leviticus, In His Service (Box Set) - So let's just get into all the old Christian metal this year, shall we? I bought The Strongest Power on cassette way back in the day. I didn't like it much then because of the vocals. Fast forward to today and that's one of my favorites out of the four. I also really dig Setting Fire to the Earth because Ez Gomer and Terry Haw from Jet Circus are members. As a result the album has sort of a proto-Jet Circus sound. Oddly enough I like Knights of Heaven the least. Produced by John and Dina Elephante it's got great production but is kind of generic sounding. Not bad - just not distinctive.
XL & Death Before Dishonor, The Beginning of Closure - Listening to this now. Loving it. It's far more melodic than XL's previous work - which is fine. Not as much rap as the older ones. Hooks are huge though and the instrumentation is on point. Looking forward to listening to this more.
Final Fantasy VII Remake - When this was announced, I was one of the first naysayers. This would never work. How could it? And with an action-oriented battle system? No. I didn't even like the demo when it came out. Then people were raving about it and I tried it. Everything clicked. The battle system is a refined version of Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy XV. I took to it pretty quickly. When I lost I could always step away, come up with another plan and load out and find victory. I enjoyed the story embellishments. If there's one thing that surprised me it's that this game was able to make me care about Midgar as a location and the world in general. The original was never my favorite but the remake has engaged me in ways the original never did. So glad I gave this a chance. Can't wait to see how in the world they pull off the rest of the saga.
Call of Cthulhu - I needed something different after FFVIIR so a slow-paced cosmic horror investigation game seemed like a good palette cleanser. Though it's hard to get into the atmosphere with a little 3-year old jibber-jabbering about Paw Patrol in the next room.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons - I liked this for a little bit but got bored after 25 or so hours. I guess I just need more of a story to push me along. My wife adores it though. She's logged over one hundred hours. She's never been a console gamer ever so this tickles me to no end.
Tabletop Simulator - Not really a "game" so much as a means to play board games with people online. I've played a few times and it's fun enough though my wife gets more use out of it because everyone wants to play at like nine at night when I'm already exhausted.
Collection of Mana - I've been playing through Trials of Mana when I can but my playthrough has kind of ground to a halt because someone has pretty much locked down the Switch with Animal Crossing.
The Myth of the American Dream, D.L. Mayfield - Conventional wisdom says that most people get more conservative as they get older. The opposite is true for "Mr. Death Metal at 40" over here. I've gotten more liberal. Mayfield's journey from conservative Evangelical to liberal post-Evangelical is a lot different from mine but we've reached a lot of the same conclusions. Conclusions regarding the place of power, safety, wealth and the like in Christian life. And just what our responsibilities are to the people around us who are different. It's kind of nice to know others are thinking similar things because my Facebook can get a little tiresome.
Demon Camp, Jennifer Percy - I read this book out of morbid curiosity. For you see... my wife and I were part of the titular "Demon Camp" for many, many years. We left (sorta...long story) in 2014, which was about the time this book came out. (The book didn't have anything to do with it.) Initially our Demon Camp friends told us that the book portrayed them unfairly. I didn't read it then (except for excerpts here and there) because I wanted to support my friends. However, both myself and my views have changed a lot since then so I was interested to see if that would affect my opinion. It didn't. This is not a good book. It fails to offer anything insightful about soldiers, PTSD, religion, or anything. It's like some weird fever dream. A trip down a religious rabbit hole. Every conversation the author has with people is crazy goofballs. Normal people don't talk like this. I was around these people, ya'll. And yeah - some of them were weird. Sometimes we talked about demons but we were able to carry on a normal conversation without sounding like pod people. It's like the author had an interesting idea but absolutely no guidance - and very little editing. Of note, the book totally ends with the author probably sleeping with her subject. No conclusions drawn, no insight gleaned. At the end you're just like, "whoa, that was weird." Not exactly the reaction you want when writing about religion and PTSD.